By Peter Gray

The latest celebration of film in Brisbane, The Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival (BAPFF) is a must-see 16 day event hosting more than 80 film titles from across the region. From home-grown short features (the Brisbane made ‘Bloomers’) to international titles ranging from Korea, Germany and China, BAPFF promises to deliver the best cinema the Asia Pacific region has to offer, with classic works and exciting new voices working alongside each other.

Commencing on Saturday November 29th and running through until Sunday December 14th, the festival’s opening night promises to go off with a Bollywood bang with ‘The Crow’s Egg’, an upbeat blend of Indian music, social realism and slum dog comedy. Asking the age-old question: How far would you go for your first slice of pizza? ‘The Crow’s Egg’, coming direct from the Toronto International Film Festival, is both heart-wrenching and heart-warming as it highlights the poverty stricken country in an honest yet hilarious fashion.

Hailing from China, ‘Trap Street’ is an insightful yet terrifying thriller that acts as a social commentary on society’s reliance on technology. Detailing what appears to be an accidental meeting between a man and a woman, gradually this taut film portrays the most normal of occurrences and emotions – love and chance meetings most predominantly – under a dome of implied surveillance where no one is safe and nothing is sacred. Likely to be one of the festival’s hottest talking points, ‘Trap Street’ is a grand execution in Chinese cinema.

One of the film’s representing Korea, and arriving to BAPFF fresh from a three-minute standing ovation at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, ‘A Girl At My Door’ is a slow-burning thriller held at its core by a complex, and brave, performance from Doona Bae (‘Cloud Atlas’). Portraying a policewoman struggling to find herself as the sole female officer in a remote village, Bae entices the audience along as she befriends an abused 14-year-old girl, whose appearance in the film brings both shock and sentiment as the hardships of this young girl’s life aren’t sugar-coated, and add a sense of brutal gravity to proceedings. Working its way towards an explosive finale, ‘A Girl At My Door’ is the kind of festival feature that appears tailor made for mainstream cinema success.

Marking its Australian premiere, ‘Gangster Pay Day’ is Hong Kong’s homage to classic HK cinema, bringing to mind such titles as ‘Infernal Affairs’. Following a retired triad boss, Ghost (Anthony Wong, particularly cheeky), as he attempts to live a retired, normalised existence, this surprisingly humorous action film kicks into gear when a rival thug attempts to muscle Boss into selling drugs through his chain of clubs and bars. Though there’s nothing especially innovative or surprising in Lee Po Cheung’s unapologetically Hong Long actioner, the familiarity of it all makes it such a pleasant watch with the film working flawlessly within the bounds of the genre the country has defined.

A recent winner of Best Script at the Stockholm Film Festival and the coveted Golden Pyramid for Best Film at the Cairo Film Festival, ‘Melbourne’ arrives to BAPFF with a slew of praise and accolades, solidifying itself as one of the must-see film events throughout the festival. Though it arrives with an Australian title, it’s distinctly Iranian as it is set almost entirely within a Tehran apartment, unfolding in real time, focusing on a couple who are in the last stages of packing for the titular city where they intend to live for 3 years. The simplest of premises, ‘Melbourne’ somehow manages to evolve into a tense and heartbreaking film experience that defies all the traditional rules of storytelling.

These titles are just a mere fraction of what’s on offer throughout BAPFF, haven’t even mentioned the free film events playing under the stars at QPAC’s Melbourne Street Green, indicating there is no genre left out for all audiences to participate in this special film event that has been curated especially for our blossoming city.

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